And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. — Jonah 3:4
We know that the Bible is a book of hope. But let’s be honest, there are stories throughout the book that make us wince. Sometimes they leave us asking God what He was doing.
When the prophet Jonah entered Nineveh, he gave a message of hopelessness — in 40 days your city will be destroyed! What?? That can’t be right. Unfortunately he did not say, Nineveh will be destroyed “unless“, but emphatically prophesied destruction to the people of the city — seeming to say their situation was hopeless.
Hearing a prophecy like that could cause anyone to throw up their hands in surrender. Yet hearing this message Nineveh repented, and because their repentance was genuine God spared the city for a season. Many lives were saved.
Jonah’s prophecy of judgment was averted and Nineveh’s destiny was changed by their response to the deep conviction from a message of doom. In other words, Nineveh recognized just how sinful they had become and found conviction to repent. That’s how it is with God. He is so compassionate, so longing to forgive and restore people to Himself, that He gladly offers mercy to those who genuinely seek it.
Is there a “prophecy of doom” over your life? Do you feel like our world is dangerously close to the sinful Nineveh? Are our sins piled so high that God’s judgment seems irrevocable and imminent? Don’t despair … repent! With our compassionate God, there is hope even when it seems all is lost. If Nineveh, a pagan city, hardened and ripe for judgment and “hopelessly” heading toward destruction, could be saved, shouldn’t you also have hope? Turning to the Lord is not difficult. But only you can make that decision. Make this Easter a resurrection of your life in Christ Jesus.